Monthly Archives: October 2015

With pictures by Niki Daly


Regardless of what you believe,
Tonight’s the night – All-Hallows Eve,
And now the midnight hour is struck –
Thoughts of dim and bitter luck
Fly like bats before the moon
Squeaking high and out of tune,
And the players take their place
On a stage as dark as space.



Several creatures of the dark
Swagger through the misty park:
The melancholy dame who tried
Her fingers at infanticide,
The dreaded lurker-in-the-gloom
That hovers near a crumbling tomb,
The little girl with rabbit ears
Designed to seek and focus fears.



Ghost and goblin, nasty elf
The Great Lord of Misrule Himself,
Pale as linen, Mr Death
Who seeks to confiscate your breath,
The Wicked Witches of the quarters
And their Naughty Wiccan daughters,
All make you gasp, with jellied spine,
“I hope they haven’t come to dine.”



Observe how, in the distant glooms
A grim and eyeless fortress looms.
Its features give you quite a scare!
You quickly turn your gaze to where
The fellow in the Iron Mask
Goes about his gruesome task:
His bat-winged shirt he now unfurls
To terrify two little girls.



On the stage is now deployed
The couch of Doctor Sigmund Freud:
The ego, smaller than a pug
Left abandoned on the rug,
The Lurking Id, Oedipus Rex,
The Libido, whose muscles flex,
The sweaty terrors of the dream
That comes from eating clotted cream.


Niki sent me the wonderful pen and ink/watercolour drawings, and I illustrated them with words, so we have reversed the usual way that this kind of thing goes. I hope you all have a scary Halloween.



Drowning in the Pool

The blue barracuda
makes crossing
waves in the water
which echo
but don’t follow
the grid of
the blue nylon net
whose shadow
makes a deeper
lattice that shudders
within the gridded
foci of sunlight
shining through
the clear waves
onto the blue
floor of the pool
intercepted by the
shadows of leaves
from the green
bamboo plant and on
the intersecting ripples
the leaves themselves
drift on the surface
tension that sucks
towards the mouth
of the leaf-skimmer
stretching out the
reflection of the
pool-blue sky.

29:9:2015 – 1:10:2015

Got up in the night to pee. Easing the curtain aside I saw the Blood Moon Eclipse beginning. Later the room was sooty black.

Blood Moon EclipseThese pictures were taken by my friend Neil Rusch, who is a brilliant photographer and who got up in the night to photograph the lunar eclipse in Cape Town.

black feather

Found a black feather in the veld, and set it standing up in the velcro of my cap, at the back. There are two pairs of black swans who come here in the spring. Walked down the road towards the escarpment, and turned into the veld towards a set of shelters with (probably Khoi) rock art on the walls, where the feather seemed to leap out of my cap and fall at my feet, startling me as it brushed past my face like a dark moth. I left the feather on a ledge below the paintings as an offering.


The next day, walking in the veld, I came across these two rather distinctive feathers and again tucked them into my cap band. When I got inside, they were no longer there. Later, sitting at the dining-room table I saw a feather tumbling in the wind right outside. I went out to see, and it was my two feathers. I thought I should keep them.

Two feathers

Below the cottage the veld is covered in white pear petals from the ancient stand of trees. The petals have an uncanny resemblance, in size, shape and colour, to the milky quartz scrapers left here by the Khoi/San in great numbers.

Pear Petals & Scraper

Stream & Pear Petals

The petals on the surface of the stream resemble the ant-roads, which at this time of year become choked with tiny white petals which they harvest. They are black ants with shiny bodies, and come in several models and sizes (including big soldiers with fierce pincers) according to their function and status, like the output of a car factory.


A big hare right outside the window in the early morning, startled, I think, by the sound of the camera. Its colour perfectly matches the ambience.

Porcupine quills

I think we’re in for a dry summer, and the winter has had scant rain. The dams in the Western Cape are low. Nevertheless, many flowers. The wild is always optimistic.


When you look at the shaved patches in the veld that are (or were) fields, you realise how much more efficient the natural system is at producing biomass.

Fields through a ruin. Click to enlarge.

The poplars would like to colonise everything, but they are confined to a fairly narrow strip which is reliably damp. They send hundreds of suckers up but only a few make it as trees. They’re really one organism, with one genetic makeup.

Poplar Grove

Fine grass has sprung up among the poplars – the brightest possible green – making the whole resemble a sacred grove with the trunks of the trees forming the pillars of an implied temple. The trees are now covered with their cat-tail-like flowers, which drop and lie like hairy caterpillars in the grass. The first pale leaf buds are just opening, though one tree, in no obvious way different, already has a full compliment of dark green leaves. Odd, since they are all identical, and share very similar conditions, and perhaps even share roots.

Perfect footprints in the mud of the already-drying stream, each a negative of the foot that made them. Maybe a small fox?

Footprints: Click to enlarge

There is a ruined stone house with one room, the walls crumbled to shoulder height, the mud long gone from between the stones. On one corner of this structure a termite nest is fixed to the wall. On previous visits it has looked like a skull, with two eye sockets and a mouth dug out by aardvarks. This year it is a smooth mound again, the termites having repaired their structure.

Ruin with Termite Mound